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If Being Black Ever Gets Too Inconvenient, Rachel Dolezal Can Opt Out
The freedom to go from identifying as white to black isn't afforded to blacks who would want to identify as white.
Clint Smith is a teacher, poet, and doctoral candidate in Education at Harvard University with a concentration in Culture, Institutions, and Society (CIS). He serves as a resident teaching artist in Boston Public Schools and as a writing instructor at Bay State Correctional Center in Norfolk, MA. Previously, he taught high school English in Prince George’s County, Maryland and served as a public health worker in Soweto, South Africa. His research interests include critical pedagogy, mass incarceration, race, and inequality. In 2015 he was awarded the Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. In 2013, Mr. Smith was named the Christine D. Sarbanes Teacher of the Year by the Maryland Humanities Council. He has spoken at the 2015 TED Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, the U.S. Department of Education, the IB Conference of the Americas, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and has been featured on TED.com, Upworthy, and TVOne's Verses and Flow. Additionally, he has been profiled in The Washington Post, Vox, The Huffington Post, The Root, NBC News and the book, "American Teacher: Heroes in the Classroom" (Welcome Books, 2013). His TED Talk, The Danger of Silence, has been viewed more the 2 million times and was named one of the top 20 TED Talks of 2014. His new TED Talk, How to Raise a Black Son in America, was released in April 2015.
As a poet, he is a 2014 National Poetry Slam champion, an Individual World Poetry Slam Finalist, a Callaloo Fellow, and has served as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State. His poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Kinfolks, American Literary Review, Still: The Journal, Winter Tangerine Review, Lime Hawk, Harvard Educational Review and elsewhere.
Clint earned a BA in English from Davidson College and is an alumnus of the New Orleans Public School System.
Clint Smith: The Rachel Dolezal case and phenomenon is interesting. Part of me finds it very silly. People have been talking about this idea of transracial like if you’re comparing her to Caitlyn Jenner and saying, you know, well if someone can choose, can say that they were born feeling a woman or born feeling a man in a woman’s body or what have you. Then if they can make that choice, shouldn’t someone still be able to make that choice around race.
I would push back and say that I don’t think that those are the same thing. I think those have very different consequences and implications and manifest themselves in very different ways. And, you know, Rachel Dolezal, while she might deeply love black culture, while she might deeply believe herself to be a participant in black social and cultural spaces, at the end of the day she can opt out, you know. She can say — she can choose to not be black in a way that black people cannot choose to not be black. I can’t, you know, get pulled over by a policeman and tell him I’m white today. So the way you should interact as me as a white person because that’s how I identify. I can’t do that. That’s not a reality. I don’t have the opportunity or would ever want to opt in or out of my racial identity. For Rachel Dolezal, she can. She can choose if it came down to a matter of deep inconvenience, she could choose to not navigate the world as a black person anymore. And in the implications of her actions are subsequently very different than a real black woman’s. And I think it brings up a larger conversation around what is race, which I think is an important conversation to have. Because again we have to recognize that race is largely a social construct. Like it is not an actual real thing.
Racism and because race has been made a real historical issue, those things are real. But when it’s done I think and what’s important is it is sort of there’s a catalyst for a dialogue again in a different way as so many things over the course of this year have around what race is, how we think about it, how we conceive of what it means to be racialized. And I think these are important conversations to have.
The strange Rachael Dolezal saga has opened the door to a world's worth of hot takes and perspectives. Author and poet Clint Smith stopped by Big Think recently and explained why he sees a major separation between Dolezal and the African-Americans she seeks to identify with. The freedom to go from identifying as white to black isn't afforded to blacks who would want to identify as white.
The year 2020 will go down in history as one that shook our inner and outer worlds.
Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.
- Outplacement is an underperforming $5 billion dollar industry. A new non-profit coalition by SkillUp intends to disrupt it.
- More and more Americans will be laid off in years to come due to automation. Those people need to reorient their career paths and reskill in a way that protects their long-term livelihood.
- SkillUp brings together technology and service providers, education and training providers, hiring employers, worker outreach, and philanthropies to help people land in-demand jobs in high-growth industries.
Source: McKinsey Global Institute analysis [PDF]<p>Work in understanding the skills at the heart of the new digital economy is leading to novel assessments that allow individuals to prove mastery to faithfully represent their abilities—but also to give weight and stackability to the emerging ecosystem of micro-credentials that make education more seamless across time and education providers. And we are seeing the beginnings of a renewal in the liberal arts, focused on building human skills in affordable ways that are accessible to many more individuals and far more effective.</p><p>Amidst these dark times, there is much opportunity to refresh the nation's education and training solutions to support the success of individuals and society writ large.</p>